McIlroy's Olympics bid at risk over fears it may impact on plans to start family
Rory McIlroy will pull out of the Olympics if he believes the Zika virus poses a threat to his and his fiancee’s plans to become parents.
Golf has already seen four Major-winners withdraw from Rio and will be desperate for McIlroy to be teeing it up when the sport returns to the Olympics after an absence of 112 years.
But McIlroy has now made it clear that he will not travel to Brazil if he feels the risk is too high.
Zika is spread by the Aedes mosquito, which is prevalent in the coastal city and may be particularly so at the course built within the Marapendi Natural Reserve. The virus has been linked to brain deformities in newborn babies and can be passed on from person to person. The World Health Organisation also said there was a scientific consensus that Zika could trigger Guillain-Barré, a neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis.
All this has rung the warning bells for the world No 3.
“There’s going to be a point in the next couple of years where we (he and fiancee Erica Stoll) are going to have to think about starting a family,” McIlroy told the BBC.
"Right now, I'm ready to go but I don't want anything to affect that. . .
"I have been reading a lot of reports about Zika and there have been some articles coming out saying that it might be worse than they're saying and I have to monitor that situation."
While Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have announced they will not compete because of scheduling reasons, Vijay Singh and Marc Leishman have both cited Zika as a reason.
The International Olympic Committee has declared there is no reason to move the Games, having taken advice from the WHO. But the respected Harvard Public Health Review recently published an article by a Canadian professor who insisted the Games must not go ahead.
"As it gets closer I am relishing the thought of going down there," McIlroy said. "I used to view the Olympics with a bit of resentment because it made me really think about who I was and where I was from.
"If there was just a Northern Irish team, I'd love to play for a Northern Irish team."